The Levitical and Melchizedek Priesthoods Compared

Hebrews 7:12, Priesthood being changed…a change also of the law [Torah]. The Greek words for being changed and a change are respectively metatithemi (a verb) and metathesis (a noun). The root of the noun is the verb, which means “to transpose, to transfer, to go or pass over, to fall away or desert from one person or thing to another.” Many people interpret this verse to mean that YHVH’s Torah-law was changed (i.e., invalidated or annulled) by the new covenant, but is this what the author is saying here?

Before going further in our discussion, let’s lay out some basic truths of the Scriptures.

YHVH doesn’t change (Mal 3:6; Heb 13:8; Jas 1:17). The word torah [in English, translated as law] means “instructions, principles, teachings” and came directly from YHVH to his people. The Torah teaches men how to love YHVH and love one’s fellow man. It is YHVH’s instructions in righteousness and reflects his very character and nature. Who YHVH is doesn’t change.

It is a sin (a violation of the Torah) to change the Torah (Deut 4:2; 12:32).

So in this light, what is this verse really saying? It declares that the priesthood was changed. The Levitical priesthood that was temporarily and parenthetically inserted into the Melchizedek priesthood (both priesthoods are revealed in the Torah, see Exod 19:2, 4 cp. 28:1; 32:29). In the former priesthood, a father acted as the priest over his family interceding for them before Elohim via sacrifices and offerings (Gen 8:20; 12:7,8; 13:18; 22:9; 26:25; 33:20; 35:1, 3, 7; Exod 17:15; Job 1:5). In the latter priesthood, YHVH designated the descendants of Aaron as priests over Israel replacing the heads of each home as the priest of each family (Exod 30:31).

The writer of Hebrews reveals to us that with the coming of Yeshua, the Aaronic or Levitical priesthood was replaced by the original order of Melchizedek with Yeshua as its High Priest. This makes sense when we realize that Yeshua is not only the builder of his spiritual house, the church (Heb 3:3), but also the head of it, for he is the High Priest over the spiritual house of Elohim (Heb 10:21), which is comprised of the saints who are living stones and are apart of that house (1 Pet 2:5) and temple (1 Cor 3:16; 2 Cor 6:16; Eph 2:21–22) with Yeshua as the chief corner stone and the apostles and prophets the foundation (Eph 2:20). The saints are currently a part of this original Melchizedek priesthood, which has attained to the higher spiritual level through Yeshua, regardless of their tribal lineage (1 Pet 2:9; Rev 1:6; 5:10; 20:6).

This verse is also telling us that since the Levitical priesthood reverted to the original priestly order, certain temporary regulations within the Torah pertaining to the Levitical priesthood had to revert back to the original Torah priesthood. The Epistle to the Hebrews makes it clear what this change or transfer involves. The Levitcal priesthood ­— an expansion of the Melchizedek priesthood — was also a prophetic shadow-picture of the new priesthood to come. The temporary Levitical priesthood in all of its aspects pointed to Yeshua’s sinless life, his death, burial, resurrection, and then his role as our Great Heavenly High Priest. The Levitical priesthood was a spiritual road sign that pointed to Torah’s greater fulfillment in the Person of Yeshua. So what was changed or transferred? The writer of Hebrews clearly answers this question throughout this book. Yeshua once and for all permanently replaced all the repeated sacrifices and the temple ceremonies associated with them, as well as the priesthood that administered these rites and rituals. That’s all that was “changed” or transferred. YHVH’s sabbaths, feasts, dietary laws, and his other instructions in righteousness have never been annulled. In fact, Yeshua upholds the Torah in every way (see Matt 5:17–19), and even tells us that we are not only to follow its letter, but also its spirit (Matt 5:21–48). Paul calls the Torah holy, just and good (Rom 7:12), and tells us in the strongest terms that the grace of YHVH doesn’t annul, but rather establishes the Torah (Rom 3:31). His adherence to the Torah to the end of his life is validated by the biblical record (Acts 21:24), and by the testimony of his own lips in two courts of law (Acts 24:14; 25:8).

During the Millennium, it appears that the two priesthoods will be operating simultaneously. Assuming Ezekiel’s temple is a prophetic description of a millennial temple (not all Bible experts believe this), the Levitical sons of Zadok will be officiating at the temple in Jerusalem (Ezek 44:125), while the Melchizedek priesthood of all believers (Peter calls them the royal priesthood, 1 Pet 2:9) will be ruling and reigning over the earth with Yeshua during the Millennium. In other words, these priest are the saints that John mentions three times in the Book of Revelation who will be priests during the Millennium (Rev 1:6; 5:10; 20:6). Presumably their role will be to teach the Torah and the Testimony of the Yeshua to the peoples of the earth and to act as judges, since this was the historic role of the ancient Levite priests. Meanwhile the sons of Zadok will be officiating at the temple in Jerusalem. Interestingly, Isaiah talked about a millennial era priesthood that would be comprised of both Levites and redeemed Gentiles (Isa 66:18–21).

 

5 thoughts on “The Levitical and Melchizedek Priesthoods Compared

  1. Very, very good, Natan! Thank you very much for sharing your understanding of this. We (my wife and I) are very happy to know you agree with these matters. We have been wondering about your thoughts concerning these things and now pray you will often make this clear in your teachings. It is so important and needed for so many, who are confused, to become clear about these distinctions and thus better able to embrace the calling to follow Messiah AND His Melchizedek (Book of the Covenant) Torah in the Tenakh (“O.T.”) and as fully taught in the Brit Hadeshah (“N.T.”). It is very difficult for so many, especially those in Christianity, to accept this calling when they are confused about this distinction, believing that “Yeshua once and for all permanently replaced all the repeated sacrifices and the temple ceremonies associated with them, as well as the priesthood that administered these rites and rituals.” As a result, they most regularly “throw the baby (the Melchizedek Torah – Book of the Covenant) out with the bath water (Levitical Torah – Book of the Law)” [That is not the best metaphor, I know].

    Questions:
    1) Could you please expound on the thought at the end of your blog. You wrote, “Isaiah talked about a millennial era priesthood that would be comprised.” Comprised of who?

    2) According to your understanding, should followers of Messiah participate in the physical building and ceremonies of a pre-millennial temple in Jerusalem or will that be part of the NWO (New World Order) system of the anti-Messiah?

    3) Is it YHWH’s instructions for there to be a re-instituting of a non-Zadokite, non- Melchizedek, pre-millennial Levitical priesthood?

    Thank you, again.

    Jerry and Lisa

    • Thank you for your encouraging comments.

      Question 1: That was a typo. I corrected it. It should read, “Meanwhile the sons of Zadok will be officiating at the temple in Jerusalem. Interestingly, Isaiah talked about a millennial era priesthood that would be comprised of both Levites and redeemed Gentiles (Isa 66:18–21).”

      Question 2: Be led of the Spirit on this, but I would say no. I couldn’t be part of a Yeshua-less building program. Many of the rabbinic Jews are even antiMessiah. That doesn’t set well with me at all. Can you imagine Paul the apostle going for this in his day? If the Jews get a temple going, I hardly think this will the one that Yeshua will be inhabiting during the Millennium. Personally, I think he’ll be hanging out in the New Jerusalem, which I believe will be hovering over the earth during the Millennium, but this is another discussion. The NJ seems a more suited habitation for the King of kings than some two-bit temple made by men. Just my thoughts.

      Question 3: If such a priesthood occurs, I can’t imagine it will have YHVH’s blessing on it. It seems that it’ll be a work of man, and not a fulfillment of any biblical prophecy of which I am aware. I could be mistaken on this, but this is my understanding to this point. I know that Paul talks about a temple of Elohim in 2 Thess 2:4 that seems to be an end time prophecy. Is this literal or allegorical? This passage has been the subject of much speculation. Often it’s combined with Yeshua’s reference to the abomination of desolation in Matt 24. The latter prophecy was fulfilled, at least in part, in A.D. 70. What the future fulfillments are, I have not been given the revelation. I can only speculate like everyone else, and I try not to do too much of this. The teachings of most prophecy pundits out there (both in the mainstream church and in the Hebrew roots movement) largely comprise of the speculations and reasonings of men as they grub for your money. Frankly, I don’t feel led to contribute to this confusion.

      Excellent questions.

  2. Thanks Natan for sharing and laying out this priesthood comparison which so many are confused about. In the testimony of Yeshua (Revelation), he clearly states the order to some degree of understanding

  3. Thank you for this. I was very confused as there is a new thing in the Messianic movement that we no longer need to wear ztit ztit as we are from the melkizedek priesthood.. could you explain or what you wrote also covers this? Is does for me but I need to be sure.

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